Women are taught to hate the way they look or, at the very least, that they should constantly improve themselves physically. As a decidedly average-looking woman (ignore the ugly picture attached to this column, it’s not what I look like), I’m not immune to the insecurities developed from growing up with Barbie dolls and magazine covers of air-brushed beauties.
However, the only part of my appearance that I’ve never expected to hear criticism is my weight. I’m am exactly average weight for my height, which I’ve rarely wavered from in my adult life. Not too heavy, and not too thin — just right to be considered healthy. So, my weight is never a thought. Until, however, I go out eating with other women.
Apparently, average weight in America equates to having an eating disorder. I cannot keep up with how often I’ve had a woman attempt to stage an intervention out of nowhere when they see me eat a reasonable portion of the food I ordered. Even worse is when I say I ate at home when I meet friends for drinks, which I do to save money, avoid gross bar food, and — of course — because I hate eating with women. Ostensibly, though, if I don’t eat in front of other people, I’m skipping meals in a desperate attempt to keep my weight down.
There’s no way to avoid this, even if I do the opposite. When I’ve eaten junk food just like everyone else, I’ve gotten exclamations of “How do you eat all that and stay skinny?!” Once, I hadn’t even put a cookie to my mouth yet, and I still got that response.
I eat healthy, but not in a super strictly regimented way. I don’t particularly enjoy fried food, so I rarely eat it. I like the way I cook, so I don’t eat out much. If I want a piece of candy, I eat one, because I’m happy with one piece. If I want a beer, I drink … well, more than one, but it’s usually only a couple of times a week. I work out, but not every day. None of this is rocket science, yet it seems my behavior is difficult to understand in female social circles.
I spend significantly more time socializing with men in my life, so the reaction to my weight is always a surprise. My male friends don’t make comments about my weight, ever — positive or negative — so I forget that weight is something most women obsess over, the same way I obsess over how short my legs are, or small my rear end is.
However, this opinion piece isn’t an attempt to promote the “love yourself as you are” mantra. Props to anyone who can claim they do, but we live in a society where getting into and staying in that frame of mind is like climbing Mt. Everest every single day, so I’m not going to waste my breath there.
I think the more realistic solution is for women to stop taking their own insecurities out on one another. If I feel bad about my height, it doesn’t give me the right to call tall women “giants” to feel better about myself. If I’m insecure about my backside, that doesn’t make it okay for me to call Kim Kardashians of the world “dumpy” because I’m jealous. So if you’re insecure about your weight, leave average-sized (and legitimately skinny) people who are minding their own business alone. It’s not their fault that society has said there’s one way to look, and they have plenty of their own demons. Instead, let’s try out some of that sisterhood business so we can improve our quality of life, make something other than looks our main focus, and — most importantly — so I can finally enjoy a meal in public again.